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Study of the implementation of the

National Rural Employment Guarantee


Scheme (NREGS)

Focus on Migration

August 2009

Authors:
Paulomee Mistry, Director, Disha
Anshuman Jaswal, Analyst, Celent

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Table of contents

Introduction ............................................................................. 3
Literature Review ..................................................................... 9
Overall Sample across the four states .....................................13
Demographics.......................................................................13
Spotlight on Migration ..........................................................21
NREGS Implementation ........................................................30
State-wise comparison ............................................................48
Demographics.......................................................................48
Spotlight on Migration ..........................................................60
NREGS Implementation ........................................................72
Field-workers’ observations .................................................. 110
Conclusion............................................................................. 113
Recommendations ................................................................. 118
Appendix 1- NREG Workers’ Union, Gujarat .......................... 120
References ............................................................................ 121

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Introduction
The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) has become the
cornerstone of the central government’s employment policy in rural areas.
The scheme has been extended to the entire country from 1st April, 2008. An
amount in the range of Rs. 27000-28000 crores (US$ 5.6 billion) has been
allocated to the scheme till now, of which interestingly almost one-fifth has
gone to Rajasthan.
The main provisions of the NREGA are as follows:
(i) Each household in the rural areas of India will be entitled to at least
100 days of guaranteed employment every year for at least one
adult member. This employment will involve undertaking casual
manual labor at the rate of Rs. 60 per day.
(ii) Only productive works that create long-term assets shall be taken up
under the Program. Some of these are stated under the minimum
features of the program given below in the proposal.
(iii) Part of the program’s objective would be to provide for the training
and improvement of the skills of unskilled laborers.
(iv) The payment for the labor can be undertaken in either cash or kind
and would depend on the decisions made in this regard by the State
Council.
(v) As far as possible, employment shall be provided within a radius of 5
kilometers of the village where the applicant resides at the time of
application. If the employment is outside this radius, then the
transport and other allowances will be provided as per the program.
However, work cannot be provided outside the block.
There is a provision for childcare if there are more than 20 women on any
worksite. Under the same, one of the women will take care of the children
and get paid statutory minimum wage.
A proportion of the wages (not exceeding 5 per cent) may be deducted as a
contribution to welfare schemes organized for the benefit of laborers
employed under the Program. The schemes to be considered are health

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insurance, accident insurance, survivor benefits, maternity benefits and
social security schemes.

The focus of the Scheme shall be on the following in their order of priority:-
(i) Water conservation and water harvesting
(ii) Drought proofing (including afforestation and tree plantation)
(iii) Irrigation canals including micro and minor irrigation works
(iv) Provision of irrigation facility to land owned by households belonging to
the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes or to land of beneficiaries
of land reforms or that of the beneficiaries under the Indira Awas
Yojana of the Government of India;
(v) Renovation of traditional water bodies including desilting of tanks;
(vi) Land development
(vii) Flood control and protection works including drainage in water
logged areas
(viii) Rural connectivity to provide all-weather access, and
(ix) Any other work which may be notified by the Central Government in
consultation with the State Government.

The previous study undertaken by Disha done in February 2007 looked at the
theoretical underpinnings of the NREGA and the operational aspects of the
schemes. The current study builds on the earlier work. The paper presents
findings from a study involving 938 respondents that comprise beneficiaries
of the NREGS across four states and 12 districts. In addition to aspects such
as scheme implementation and benefits from NREGS, we highlight the effect
on migration across the four states. Migration is a very complex process. A
recent study by World Bank (World Development Report, 2009) has found
that NREGS is undesirable as it reduces migration and interferes with a free

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market economy 1 . But this is very different from the ground reality.
Migration causes disruption
in the family and reduces the children’s access to education and the family’s
access to healthcare. When families migrate often they live in slums with
deplorable standards of hygiene. It sounds desirable from an economic point
of view to have cheap labor but it is a traumatic experience for many people.
NREGS can be a means through which a basic level of sustenance can be
guaranteed to people where they exist presently, without uprooting them
from their familiar surroundings. As the World Bank study also mentions, in
India facilities such as health and education are location-specific and not
conducive to family migration. This is a system will take trillions of dollars
and decades to reform. Hence, it is unfair to expect schemes such as NREGS
to deal with the reality as it exists without waiting for it to become what it
should be. Furthermore, Indian cities are already under a lot of strain trying
to cope with high levels of migration. Reducing the rate of migration will give
some breathing space to urban planners to create basic levels of
infrastructure in cities and towns. Also, we doubt if NREGS will reduce
migration so much as to harm the growth of urban economy in India. NREGS
might create an acceptable minimum wage level for the rural poor, but if
they want more opportunities, urban areas would remain the places to go to.
Finally, most western countries have unemployment benefits (social security)
that provide an assured income to people without jobs. NREGS is a much
diluted version of existing social security schemes in countries such as U.K.
and the U.S. As India grows as an emerging economy, it should have a basic
social safety net that ensures that the poor are not left completely behind. It
is unfair for the World Bank to create different standards for developed and
developing countries.
We present two brief case-studies below to give the reader an idea of the
possible benefits of the scheme.

1
Business Standard (2009). “World Bank sees NREGS as a barrier to economic development.”
Downloaded on 4th July, 2009 from: http://www.business-
standard.com/india/storypage.php?autono=351922

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Case Study 1

Bhabhor Saburbhai Manjibhai aged 45 years resides in Fulpari village of


Limkheda taluka in Dahod district. He possesses job card No;
23005208250025 under NREGA. He has also opened a savings account in
Baroda Gujarat Gramin Bank with account no 9262. There are six members
in his family -all above 18 years of age all the members are included in the
job card. Before implementation of NREGA, five members of his family used
to migrate for nearly eight months a year in order to work as daily wagers in
cities such as Vadodara, Ahmedabad etc. Soon after receiving their job card,
five farmers of his family got the job work for construction of a communal
well. Work started in December 2008 and the five members of Saburbhai’s
family have worked for 100 days. As a result, none of his family members
migrates to the cities for work. Recently Saburbhai’s family has set up a
small shop in the village and has also purchased a motorcycle. While
migration has evidently reduced in his family, there are symptoms which
indicate that their standard of living is improving.

Case study 2

Mathurbhai Virsingh Hathila, aged 38 years, is a resident of Junavadiya


village of Limkheda taluka in Dahod district. His main occupation is farming
and agricultural labour. There are five members in his family. His wife’s name
is Kantiben. After the end of every agriculture season, Mathurbhai used to
migrate for seven months to Halol taluka to work as agriculture labour. After
initiation of NREGA in Gujarat, he got a job card with the no.
23005208250164, which includes the names of both husband and wife.
Mathurbhai and some of the neighboring farmers (group of five persons) had
demanded work under NREGA and the work was sanctioned soon after. A
total of twenty workers worked for 36 days in which Mathurbhai and his wife
worked for 72 days. Their bank account was opened in Dudhiya branch with
account no. 2075733 and they received their wages through the bank. Now,
Mathurbhai and his wife do not migrate. Since the community well has been
constructed, they are able to irrigate their land for both monsoon and winter
crops. Now they stay behind in the village and their children don’t have to
drop out of school as their education no longer gets disrupted by migration.

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Objective of the survey

The objective of the second survey of NREGS implementation is to study the


changes that have come about in the four states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh,
Maharashtra and Rajasthan as a result of the scheme and also understand
the impact it has had on Migration in the 12 districts studied in these states.

Scope of the Project

DISHA, a rights-based NGO working mainly in Gujarat, obtained the data on


the implementation of the scheme. The scope of this field study will be
restricted to the experience in the twelve districts, with mainly a tribal
population. Of these, six lie in Gujarat, two in Madhya Pradesh, two in
Maharashtra and two in Rajasthan.

Methodology

The project intended to cover four states and twelve districts where the
NREGA has been implemented. The districts to be covered were Banaskantha,
Dahod, Ahava-Dangs, Narmada, Panchmahal and Sabarkantha in Gujarat,
Dhar and Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh, Dhule in Maharashtra and Udaipur and
Dungarpur in Rajasthan. The districts chosen from Maharashtra, Madhya
Pradesh and Rajasthan are closest to Gujarat, and together comprise the
tribal belt of western and central India.

Discussion and Analysis

Responses were obtained for 938 respondents across 12 districts. There were
428 respondents in Gujarat, 180 in Madhya Pradesh, 177 in Maharashtra and
153 in Rajasthan. The main work undertaken under the NREGS was in the

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area of construction of roads, check-dams and ponds, as well as cleaning of
ponds, canals and lakes. Of the respondents, 684 were male and 254 were
female. The district-wise and age-wise break-up of the sample is given in the
tables below.
Table 1: District-wise break-up of sample

Table 2: Age-wise break-up of the sample

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Literature Review

Before looking at the findings of the study, let us look at some of the findings
and recommendations of the leading experts in this field. NREGA and the
scheme have caught the imagination of the development sector and many
authors connected with it. They have brought out the problems in the
scheme’s implementation and made suggestions as to how these should be
remedied. But on the whole, the writing is very optimistic about NREGS and
believes that the government of India has finally come up with the scheme
that could escape the failings of the past and actually reach the common man
in a way all other schemes have been unable to.

Dreze (2007) looks at the corruption in rural employment programs in Orissa


and how this has continued in a NREGS as well. Nonetheless, he believes that
there is tremendous potential of NREGA in the survey areas. Where work was
available, it was generally found that workers earned close to (and
sometimes more than) the statutory minimum wage of Rs 70 per day, and
that wages were paid within 15 days or so. This is an unprecedented
opportunity for the rural poor, and there was evident appreciation of it
among casual labourers and other disadvantaged sections of the population.
There is the hope among workers that NREGA would enable them to avoid
long-distance seasonal migration, with all its hardships. Further, there is
plenty of scope for productive NREGA works in this area, whether it is in the
field of water conservation, rural connectivity, regeneration of forest land, or
improvement of private agricultural land. The challenges involved in “making
NREGA work” should always be seen in the light of these long-term
possibilities and their significance for the rural poor.

Mathur (2007) thinks that a system of regular and continuous flow of


authoritative information is essential, as opposed to the sporadic reports and
studies dependent on the initiative of individuals and groups. There is room
for the government to take up concurrent evaluations, more effective

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monitoring, time-series studies, and focused reports on critical aspects like
minimum wages, muster rolls. The states should also shoulder responsibility
through rural development department, labor, and agriculture, forests,
planning, the CSSO and its network. To improve implementation, the
government needs to troubleshoot, modify policy directives, and issue
operational guidelines for the district, block and village levels. The gov-
ernment must take the lead, be proactive, mobilize institutions and groups,
and use the media effectively. NREGS involves several lakh government
officials, panchayat functionaries, elected representatives, NGOs and
community groups. They play a critical role but have had little preparation for
the challenge. Government has the primary responsibility, and fortunately,
also the capacity to do so, with its training in budget, infrastructure and
network of support institutions. Most importantly, the isolation in which the
NREGA now operates must end – as a mere scheme of one ministry, and no
more. This in fact is a program of national importance which has been
marginalized. While the ministry of rural development is the nodal ministry at
the centre, every relevant department and agency requires being involved.

Ambasta, Shankar and Shah (2008) gave a number of important


recommendations. These included deployment of full-time professionals
dedicated to NREGA at all levels, especially at the block level. Intensive effort
at building up a massive cadre of fully trained grass-root workers required at
the gram panchayat level through a nationwide movement for capacity
building, engaging government and non-government training institutions.
There is also a need for provision of adequate resources and setting up
systems for continuous monitoring and evaluation at every stage of the
program to ensure quality. Information technology has to be utilized
optimally to infuse more transparency, accountability and speed at all stages,
from sanction of works, release of funds, wage payments to social audit. The
author also recommends revision of the Schedule of Rates so that they are in
line with a program that bans machines and contractors, are gender-
sensitive, more accurately reflect variations in climate and geology, valuate

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separately the different activities that comprise works and move in tandem
with changes in statutory minimum wages.

Mehrotra (2008), a civil servant who has worked in implementation of the


scheme, believes that 4 per cent of program costs now allocated to
administrative costs and professional support is still quite low and does not
recognize the fact that a program of the scale of the NREG requires serious
professional support. If the 2 per cent per annum agricultural growth rate is
to be reversed, the rain-fed areas that constitute 60 per cent of the
agricultural cropped area in the country have to raise their land productivity;
they have to move from one crop per year to preferably two if not three
crops per year. The evidence from watershed development programs in the
past has demonstrated that such programs can repay the investment on
them many times quickly. Therefore, if the NREG continues existing manner,
the program runs the risk of going the way of most previous wage-
employment programs. On the other hand, if its design weaknesses, as well
as the flaws in the design of its implementation are addressed, it can raise
the stagnating rural wages, push up productivity, stem the tide of rural-
urban migration and have second- and third-round effects that go well
beyond the policymakers’ original design.

Khera (2008) thinks that the successful implementation of the NREGA in the
Pati block in Orissa state goes beyond the ability of its residents to claim
their rights. This is brought out by the high levels of engagement with the
program in terms of planning, implementation and monitoring. Apart from its
immediate aim of being a form of social security for the rural poor, by
providing them local employment, it was expected that the NREGA would
contribute to activating gram Sabhas, empowering women and developing
rural areas. In this sense, the organization studied by the author in Madhya
Pradesh has fully imbibed the spirit of NREGA, where it is looked upon as an
opportunity to promote the overall development of the village as well as to
alter the balance of power in the village society. Aside from showing that it is

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possible to make the NREGA work, the Sangathan’s experience also provides
important insights into the transformation that is possible if the act is
effectively implemented.

Mathur (2009) states that in social audit undertaken in Andhra Pradesh it


was found that in certain villages, some people stated that they had not been
paid for the work done. When comparisons were made of the payments as
per the pass-book with the payment as per the job card, it was discovered
that the job card did not contain the inner pages that record the work done
by each person; the job card itself was incomplete. This came as a surprise
as it had not happened in any region so far but then this area had resisted
the initiative. The MPDO was asked to ensure that complete job cards were
issued, investigate the lapse, fix responsibilities and send a report. Earlier,
several officials, Field and Technical Assistants and Mates admitted to
irregularities and about Rs. 50,000 were returned. From separate discussions
with the sarpanches, it was evident that they were keen to ensure that there
was no irregularity in their villages. In one of the regions, Thimmapur mandal
had been selected as a pilot project for the payment of wages through Smart
Cards, which work like ATM cards and are given to each person registered
under the NREGP. The bank concerned at the mandal headquarters appoints
an agent to make payment for each village under the scheme. The
Kollampalli village agent was a young lady who was also the President of a
successful SHG. She operated a simple instrument connected on line with the
bank, and after biometric identification each worker was paid the wage
earned that had been deposited in the savings account. The families
preferred this procedure to that of payments through the Post Office.

Hence, in our literature review and some other articles discussed in this
report, we find that a number of problems and issues have been discussed by
authors assessing the scheme. There have also been success stories and
interesting new practices that can be used as benchmarks and adopted
across the country. On the whole, the authors are very positive about the
potential of the scheme and see it as a means to revolutionize the way rural
India lives and works.

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Overall Sample across the four states
Demographics
The NREGS has become a pan-India scheme and we hope it reduces the incidence of
poverty across the country. To begin with, we would like to take a look at the
demographics of the sample studied. Some of the aspects to concentrate on are
family size, number of adults (which has a bearing on the amount of employment
needed), land and asset ownership,
As Disha is based mainly in the tribal regions of Gujarat, the largest sample size
belongs to this state (Figure 1 below). However, there are a sufficient number of
respondents across other states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, for
the findings to be representative of the NREGS work going on therein.

Figure 1 State-wise distribution of respondents

Looking at the spread of the respondents across districts in Figure 2, we find that the
sample is evenly spread across districts and out of the five districts with the most
respondents, four are actually outside Gujarat.

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Figure 2 District-wise distribution of respondents

As Figure 3 shows, while the proportion of women among the respondents is around
one-fourth, we have a sufficiently large number to be able to representative. Also,
the ratio is reflective of the proportion of women in the NREGS labor force itself in
these areas.

Figure 3 Sex-wise distribution of respondents

Figure 4 shows that the main types of work undertaken as part of the scheme
includes pond work (41%), road work (24%), check dam construction (13%) and

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earth work (8%), which involves digging and leveling of land etc. As we can see,
most of these can be useful assets around rural areas.

Figure 4 Type of work provided under NREGS

Most of the rural areas in India see a heavy incidence of the joint family system and
we see this as part of our sample as well in Figure 5 below. More than 35% of the
families have a size of six or more people.

Figure 5 Family size

The previous point extends to Figure 6 as well, as we find that more than 50% of the
families have four or more adults. If we provide employment to only one adult for
100 days per year in each family, then it will not go too far. On average, we need to

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provide employment for one adult for each couple for the scheme to have its desired
effect in terms of its coverage.

Figure 6 Number of adults in respondents’ families

As Figure 7 shows, only 62% of the respondents had land of their own they could put
to use for agricultural purposes. This puts extra burden on the non-land owning
people, as they have to work much harder to be able to feed themselves and their
families.

Figure 7 Land ownership

Figure 8 illustrates that 65% of the landowners had land which was 2 acres or
smaller in size. So, even the families that own land found it difficult to make their

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ends meet. The importance of a scheme like NREGS to provide basic sustenance and
reduce migration for such families cannot be overstated.

Figure 8 Size of land owned (acres)

In the regions studied, the productivity of land depends on whether it is irrigated or


not. As Figure 9 shows, only 14% of the respondents had land that was mainly
irrigated. This leaves a substantial 86% of the sample with land that had low
productivity.

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Figure 9 Land irrigation

Figure 10 below looks at the main occupation of the respondents. These are not
exclusive and the same person could be practicing 2 or more occupations. However,
we can see the importance of labor, be it agricultural, migratory etc. There is a lot of
dependence of occupations that are barely sufficient to provide sustenance for these
families.

Figure 10 Occupation (non-exclusive)

The kind of housing the respondent lives in can be an important indicator of the
standard of living in the rural areas. Figure 11 shows that 87% of the respondents
live in kaccha housing or huts. This is indicative of their low income levels and the
need to supplement the same with income from a scheme like NREGS.

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Figure 11 Type of house

Around half the respondents owned at least one bullock and around 30% owned a
cow or a goat. Only around 15% had a means of transport such as a cart, a bicycle or
even more rarely a motor-cycle.

Figure 12 Asset ownership

The majority of the respondents had a semi-employed or unemployed status, as


shown in Figure 13. This means that there is a latent need for employment which a
scheme like NREGS can fulfill. At some point in time, the provision of 100 hours of
employment a year can be extended and would easily find takers for the same.

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Figure 13 Employment status

We can get some idea about the health and nutritional well-being of these families
from their food consumption. Please remember that on average these families have a
size of five and also different families use different kinds of food-grains.

Figure 14 Food Consumption

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Conclusion

There is a fair distribution of the respondents across the twelve districts. Also, 27%
of the respondents were female. The main types of work undertaken was pond
work, road work and check dam construction. There were a high proportion of
families with six or more people (35%). Also, more than 50% of the families had
four or more adults. Hence, it is difficult for a family to be able to support itself with
just 100 hours of employment in a year, given as part of NREGS. Furthermore, only
62% of the respondents had land. Most of these had land equal to or below two
acres, and very few had irrigation. This meant that very few of the respondents had
access to fertile, irrigated land. This further increased the dependence of the
families on labor as a source of income and also NREGS. The economic status of the
sample was underlined by the fact that 97% of them had either kaccha housing or
huts. While the level of asset ownership was not very low, 81% of the respondents
were either semi-employed or unemployed. Hence, there is a great deal of latent
unemployment that a scheme such as NREGS can help exploit in a constructive
manner.

Spotlight on Migration

One of the main focuses of this study is on the role of NREGS in countering the need
for distress migration. Migration is a highly disruptive process for the semi-
skilled/unskilled worker. It causes a lot of stress on families that have to endure it.
We would like the NREGS to create a situation in which the choice of migration lies
with the workers and it is not forced on them by their dire economic circumstances.
NREGS can create a lot of economic independence and in this study migration will be
the main parameter on which we will judge the scheme.

Figure 15 shows that 55% of the respondents felt that migration had been reduced in
their families as a result of NREGS. For a scheme that has been in place only for a
couple of years in most locations, this is a sizable proportion, but needs to go up
further.

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Figure 15 Is NREGS effective in preventing migration?

When the respondents are not working in NREGS, it is important for them to stay
close to their homes to be able to avail basic services such as health, education and
food support. However, in 45% of the cases, they have to work more than 20
kilometers away from their homes, reducing chances of access to services and
disrupting their family lives

Figure 16 Distance of workplace (outside NREGS)

As Figure 17 shows, outside the NREGS, in 54% of the cases, daily wages for the
workers are less than Rs. 75. This is a low level and we need to use NREGS as a lever
to raise it further and allow greater options and opportunities to rural people.

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Figure 17 Wages (outside NREGS)

Figure 18 illustrates that 84% of the respondents have either less than four months
or seasonal work available. This is a very low level of employment and as most
people do not have any land, it is very difficult for them to earn sufficiently to provide
an acceptable standard of living for their families. NREGS can be but one tool through
which this can be changed.

Figure 18 Days of work (outside NREGS)

Independence and autonomy is desirable under any line of work and as Figure 19
shows, around half the respondents felt that they enjoyed sufficient levels of
autonomy

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Figure 19 Do you get opportunity to work independently under NREGS?

As Figure 20 shows, around 35% of the respondents (out of 938 in all) felt that their
children’s education had been positively benefitted by NREGS, while 30% felt that
their clothing had improved. Transportation had become better for 20% and a little
less than 20% felt that the lives of women and children had also benefitted.

Figure 20 Has NREGS brought about changes in your household? (Yes/No)

In Figure 21, we find that better groceries (29%), education (34%), health (28%)
and agriculture (5%) were the main ways in which the respondents felt that their
lives had been positively affected by the NREGS. This is a good start for the scheme
and its initiators and implementers should take heart from it and improve it further.

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Figure 21 How has NREGS benefited you?

NREGS serves to provide employment to families in off-season to allow them to earn


a living without migrating to the cities. Figure 22 shows that other than NREGS,
majority of the respondents earn their living from working as laborers, or in
agriculture, forestry construction during the off-season. NREGS can benefit them by
indirectly raising their wages in these jobs.

Figure 22 What do you do in off-season?

When migration takes place, often the entire family gets displaced. Access to
education and health also gets hampered. Hence, it is desirable for at least the
women with children to not migrate to other regions. Figure 23 shows that even after

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NREGS, more than half the respondents believe that women still have to migrate in
search of work.

Figure 23 Do women migrate for work?

As Figure 24 also shows, there has been a drastic fall in the migration for the families
of respondents. From 1605 members who migrated in all, the total has gone down to
682 members for the respondents that responded to this question. Hence, NREGS is
already showing signs of being a success in this regard.

Figure 24 Change in migration in families of respondents

Figure 25 corroborated the findings of the previous figure as 72% of the respondents
felt that the problem of migration had been sufficiently tackled. This is promising and
we need to further emphasize on this aspect.

26
Figure 25 Fall in migration?

As Figure 26 shows, more than 80% of the respondents prefer work in the NREGS in
comparison to work obtained after migration. Hence, the scheme has been able to
fulfill the latent need for employment in off-season and the government should try to
provide greater number of hours and streamline it further to ensure its continued
success.

Figure 26 Do you prefer NREGS to Migration?

Figure 27 below shows the proportion of families which had experienced migration
reduce among family members after being provided between 70-100 days of
employment. As can be seen in almost 99% of the cases, migration had gone down.
This is a very important finding and highlights the importance of fulfilling the need
for employment through NREGS.

27
Figure 27 Did migration reduce? (Provided family was given 70-100 days of
employment)

Conclusion

Reducing migration to urban areas has been one of the main aims of the scheme.
Migration is very disruptive and can lead to children being removed from their
schools and the family losing easy access to health and food support services. Also,
migration can be very painful as the level of housing is very poor and often basic
sanitary facilities such as toilets are not available to migrants in urban areas. The
work hours can also be inconvenient and excessive, leading to exploitation. In light
of these aspects, we asked the respondents about the impact of NREGS on their
families. 55% of them felt that NREGS had reduced migration in their families.
Outside the scheme, in 45% of the cases we got a response in, the respondent had
to travel more than 20 kilometers to their place of work. Also, the wages outside
NREGS were quite low. Furthermore, 84% of the respondents had less than 4
months or seasonal employment available. All this creates the case for a latent
need for a scheme such as NREGS. As Figure 24 showed, there has been a fall of
more than 55% in migration in the families of respondents. This is an important
sign of the impact of the scheme. It is allowing more and more villagers to reduce
the disruption to their lives. Also Figure 26 pointed out, more than 80% of the
respondents preferred NREGS to migration. Finally, Figure 27 underlines the need
to provide a sufficient number of days of employment per family to reduce the need
for migration.

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NREGS Implementation

Besides migration, there are a number of other parameters that can be used to
judge NREGS. We will look at them one by one in this section. Among the important
ones are the changes to the wage structure, the asset-building process and the
institutionalization of the scheme.

To begin with, let us look at the sources of information about the scheme. As Figure
28 shows, the initial source of information about NREGS has been the sarpanch or
the village head in majority of the cases. The other sources are family and friends,
NGOs and the government.

Figure 28 Source of information about NREGS

It is compulsory to have a job-card to work in NREGS and the government is


obligated to provide a job-card to all that demand it. However, in spite of the scheme
being operational for some time in these parts, even now 185 of the respondents do
not have job-cards.

29
Figure 29 Jobcard provided

As any one person from a family can work for 100 a year in the scheme, the decision
to choose who does so become important for the family. Equal say for all adults
would be the desirable scenario, but in majority of the cases (80%) a single
individual decides who represents the family, as shown in Figure 30.

Figure 30 Decision-maker regarding NREGS

As stated, 100 days of employment would be the minimum that could be provided to
these families, as they depend heavily on the NREGS. However, we find that in more
than half the cases, less than 50 days of employment in the year. While this figure
could rise through the year, it is important the condition is met for the scheme to be
effective.

30
Figure 31 Days of employment provided under NREGS

While having a job-card is the main criteria for obtaining work under NREGS, there
are other one such as the men being preferred which need be kept under check.
While there might be a few jobs that require heavy lifting that are difficult for women,
they should have equal opportunity to do any other kind of work.

Figure 32 Criteria for being chosen to work under NREGS

Figure 33 shows the percentage of respondents who felt that they had an equal
opportunity to work. As many as 42% are dissatisfied with their opportunities and
hence there is a need for the scheme to be more inclusive.

31
Figure 33 Whether given opportunity to work under NREGS

The gram sabha has become an important organization that decides on when and
where the scheme needs to be implemented. This is desirable as the decision-making
process needs to be institutionalized, while being democratic at the same time.

Figure 34 Decision on providing work made by

The facilities available to the NREGS workers include drinking water in only half the
instances. Also, in spite of the fact NREGS only includes manual labor there is a
provision for first aid in only 28% of the cases. For working women, a facility such as
crèche, which would be desirable, is barely available. Clearly there is a long way to
go before the scheme can achieve acceptable standards in this regard.

32
Figure 35 Facilities made available

In addition to the lack of sufficient facilities for the workers, there is also the inability
of the administration to provide these facilities on a regular basis. This is illustrated
by Figure 36 which indicates that the provided facilities are regular in only 38% of
the cases

Figure 36 Are facilities provided regular?

There is a need of information about the existing and upcoming projects under the
scheme. The respondents indicated that in more than two-thirds of the instances, the
panchayat was their main source of information, along with hearsay which accounted
for around one-fourth of the respondents.

33
Figure 37 Regular source of information about work under NREGS

It is compulsory for the administration to put up a board of NREGS providing details


about the project at the site. However, this criterion has been met in only 64% of the
cases and one-third of the respondents are still working in projects where no such
information is available.

Figure 38 is board notifying about NREGS provided?

When at work, the workers can be organized either in gangs (82% of the
respondents below) or individually. While the former can be a simpler means of
dealing with a large number of people, at times it leads to the undesirable practice of
payment through gang leaders, which can lead to graft.

34
Figure 39 Work in gang

Continuing from the previous figure, we find that as many as 47% of the respondents
were paid wages in gangs, which is an undesirable state of affairs and not permitted
under the scheme.

Figure 40 Payment to individual or gang

Since NREGS is a means of providing basic sustenance and independence to rural


people, it is desirable that the scheme is also applicable to physically challenged
people. However, only half of the respondents thought that it gave a rightful accrual
of entitlement to the physically challenged.

35
Figure 41 Are physically challenged provided work?

If there is no employment provided upon application to the job-card holders, then


they can claim unemployment allowance under the scheme. However, a large
proportion of such individuals would indicate that the scheme is ineffective as a
means of asset building. Majority of the respondents have applied for the allowance
earlier (67% below).

Figure 42 Have you applied for unemployment allowance if NREGS work not
provided?

The purpose of a vigilance committee is to prevent corrupt practices, but it has been
appointed in only 27% of the instances, as Figure 43 shows below. As the scheme is
still only a year or two old in many places, it is desirable that this proportion
increases otherwise necessary checks and balances would not be in place.

36
Figure 43 Has vigilance committee been appointed in your village?

In order to ensure continuous progress under the scheme, there is a need for regular
monitoring. This has been the case according to 85% of the respondents in our study.
However, frequency of the monitoring is also important, as the next figure discusses.

Figure 44 Is the work monitored?

As Figure 45 below shows, for 40% of the respondents who answered the question,
work was monitored on a weekly basis, whereas the majority (54%) said it was
monitored on a bi-weekly basis.

37
Figure 45 How often is the work monitored?
A very important test of the effectiveness of the scheme is the time it takes for the
payment of wages. Sadly, in 55% of the cases, it took more than 4 weeks for
payment of wages. This is highly undesirable and the government machinery needs
to work faster for in the service of its people.

Figure 46 Time taken for payment

One of the ways to measure the success of NREGS is to see whether it has positively
affected the labor market and the wage rate. 37% of the respondents felt that there
was a variation in the wage rate due to the scheme, as Figure 47 below shows.

38
Figure 47 Is there variation in wage due to NREGS?

Figure 48 shows that there has been a rise in the wages available to the respondents
after the introduction of the scheme. The average wage has gone up from Rs. 44 to
Rs. 78. While it is still early days, we can say that the initial impact of the scheme
has been positive and it illustrates that it will be a strong tool to ensure minimum
wages to poor people in rural areas.

39
Figure 48 Change in wages after NREGS

Figure 49 shows that almost four-fifth of the respondents are paid their wages on the
basis of work done. 16% get paid on the basis of the work done and the time taken.

Figure 49 Basis of payment

Figure 50 illustrates that in only 17% of the instances are the respondents satisfied
with regard to their wages. While NREGS is improving wage levels, it still has some
way to satisfy the people working under the scheme.

40
Figure 50 Are wages satisfactory?

The majority of the respondents said that the scheme had helped build assets in their
villages and had therefore been beneficial for the local community. This is one of the
main aims of the scheme.

Figure 51 Have assets been built in your village under NREGS?

As Figure 52 shows, the main assets that have been built under NREGS are roads,
check-dams, bridges and ponds. The variety of assets indicated that the local needs
have been taken into account while choosing which asset to build.

41
Figure 52 Assets built in village under NREGS

While there have been a variety of assets that have been built, in almost half the
instances the respondents have not found them to be useful. Hence, the democratic
decision-making process needs further refinement before the assets are found useful
by the people that build and use them.

Figure 53 Are assets useful?

Ease of use and the distance of the asset from the village can be some of the criteria
on the basis of which assets can be seen as being useful for women. However, in as
many as 40% of the cases, respondents did not think the assets were useful for
women. This can be another indicator of whether the choice of assets has been wisely
made.

Figure 54 Assets useful for women?

Work measurement is an important aspect of the entire scheme. This is one way in
which the workers can be denied their just wages. At present we find that a number

42
of officials are undertaking this duty. There is a need to reduce this number, thereby
allowing for better regulation and coordination.

Figure 55 Measurement of work done by

Besides the monitoring, inspections of the site also have to be conducted. As Figure
56 shows, most of the sites (73%) are inspected weekly or bi-weekly.

Figure 56 Frequency of inspection

As NREGS has been in place for some time now, one of the main threats to the
effectiveness of the scheme is from corruption, which is the case with many of the
government schemes. We find that 21% of the respondents have come across some

43
instance of corruption during their work as part of NREGS. This figure, though high is
still undesirable, as corruption is expected to rise with time.

Figure 57 Is there any corruption present?

In Figure 58, we find that of the various corrupt practices mentioned the main ones
were improper payment (not as per rules) and irregular payment. Jobcard still being
with the panchayat is another practice that needs to be checked as it leaves the
individual at the mercy of the panchayat.

44
Figure 58 Nature of corrupt practices

In order to reduce corruption, it has been made mandatory to make all the payment
of wages directly to a bank account opened in the beneficiary’s name. However, as
Figure 59 shows, in almost half the instances, the bank account has not been opened
at all. While this number may reduce as the local officials get more time to open
accounts, it is still quite high.

Figure 59 Has a bank account been opened for you under NREGS?

Social audit of NREGS is an important means of ensuring the correct implementation


of the scheme. Unfortunately, as Figure 60 shows, only in 9% of the instances has
this practice been initiated. If the scheme has to be successful, this number has to
improve much more.

45
Figure 60 Is social audit conducted under NREGS?

The proportion of women according to the respondents is around 44%. If this is


indeed the case then it is close to the desirable proportion of 50%. However, as seen
elsewhere, as more women participate in the workforce, facilities such as crèche for
those with children need to be initiated to reduce pressure and help them to
concentrate more on their work.

Figure 61 Proportion of NREGS workers

As the number of women in the NREGS workforce rises, it is important that their
wage payments are also regularized. In Figure 62, we find that in as many as 41% of
the cases, the respondents felt that it took more than 4 weeks for the women’s
wages to be paid, a highly undesirable state of affairs.

Figure 62 Time taken for payment of women’s wages

46
Conclusion

The main source of information across the states has been the sarpanch. This is
desirable as the scheme gets institutionalized and the rural people can use local
institutions and leaders to access information about the scheme. An important
concern has been the inability to issue job-cards on time to the scheme applicants.
This problem has been persisting since the last survey two years ago and it is sad
to see it continue in the same manner. Another worrying aspect is the fact that in
more than 50% of the cases, the scheme provided less than 50 days work. Hence it
is unable to meet its basic goals. Furthermore, we also need to outline the provision
of facilities by the administration. Not only are basic facilities not being provided,
but also when they are provided, they are not regular. The payment to gang-
leaders exists in almost half the cases, which can lead to corruption and graft.
Monitoring and inspection also need to be regular. Besides, social audit and
vigilance committees also need to be institutionalized.
In 80% of the cases in the families of respondents, the decisions regarding
participation in the scheme are not taken by mutual consent but by an individual.
However, in the scheme itself, having a job-card is the main criteria for being
chosen. The decision to provide work is being taken by the gram sabha in most of
the cases which shows that devolution of power is taking place.
NREGS has been able to make a difference in one very important aspect. And that
is the effect on the labor market. The wages have risen and are expected to do so
in the future as well. However, the respondents feel that the change is not sufficient
and the wages are not satisfactory.
Asset-building has also taken place and the majority of the respondents believe
that the assets built in their villages are useful, both for the community as a whole
and also for the women specifically.
Corruption is a worrying issue and there has been an increase in its incidence as
compared to the last survey two years ago. While this was to be expected to an
extent, we must still work towards reducing corruption. Opening bank accounts and
ensuring that the wages go directly into the accounts is one way. But the problem
with that is the rural people are not very comfortable operating accounts and often
find it difficult to ascertain whether the amounts credited are appropriate.

47
State-wise comparison
Demographics
After looking at the overall results of the survey, let us now try and understand the
demographics of the sample for the individual states. The main points to focus on
will be the family size, asset ownership, land ownership and whether the land is
irrigated, occupation and the type of housing.

Figure 63 Sex-wise distribution of respondents

As Figure 63 shows, there are a similar proportion of males and females in the entire
sample across the four states.

48
Figure 64 Type of work provided under NREGS

In Gujarat, working on ponds, roads and check dams was the most common. In
Madhya Pradesh, again ponds and roads were the major source of employment,
along with community wells. In Maharashtra, earth work, i.e., leveling and digging
trenches was the most common. This can also involve working on the land to make it
useful for crops. Other than that, check dams, roads and plantation were the main
source of employment. In Rajasthan, roads, ponds, check-dams and also forestry
was the main source of employment under the NREGS.

49
Figure 65 Family size

In all the states, more than 50% of the respondents have family sizes of 5 or below.
Hence, the number of dependents is not very high. As only 100 hours of employment
is provided per family, this is important. However, 41% of the families in Gujarat
consist of six people or more. In Madhya Pradesh this figure is 45%, in Maharashtra
it is 31% and in Rajasthan it is 21%. Hence Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have a
higher incidence of large/joint families, which creates more pressure on the family
members to migrate in search for a sufficient income.

50
Figure 66 Number of adults in respondents’ families

The capacity to work and also the earning capability (if employment is to be found) of
a family rises with the number of adults. Simultaneously, if there is not sufficient
employment to be found as is the case with the states under question, there is a
need for a scheme such as NREGS to cover a larger number of adults. Figure 66
shows that in all the states 31% of the respondents’ families had four or more adults.
This creates a pressure on the families and consequently the policy makers also need
to take cognizance to create the right amount of employment.

51
Figure 67 Land ownership

Figure 67 illustrates that Maharashtra has the least proportion of families with land, with
just 24% of the respondents having land. This increases the dependence on labor and also
NREGS in the rural areas of Maharashtra. Similarly, 34% of the respondents in Gujarat also
did not have any land and are dependent on labor and migration for a living. Hence, the
administration in these districts needs to be more careful in ensuring the benefits of NREGS
reach the landless people.

52
Figure 68 Size of land owned (acres)

As Figure 68 illustrates, more than 75% of the landowning respondents in Gujarat


have less than or equal to two acres. Hence, the average landholder does not get a
very high income from land. Similarly, for Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, this
proportion is 65% and 50% respectively. While Maharashtra has more than 51% of
the landowning respondents with at least three acres of land, the issue with the state
is that only 24% of the respondents said that they had any land in the first place.
Hence, the state has a high dependence on the success of a scheme such as NREGS
as well.

53
Figure 69 Land irrigation

Land irrigation is an important aspect in agriculture as it allows the farmers to


increase the productivity of the land in the mainly dry regions of Gujarat, Rajasthan,
Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, including those under study. Hence, it is quite
undesirable that of the few respondents that do own land in these areas, a very small
proportion have irrigated land. The proportion of non-irrigated land is 87% in Gujarat,
89% in Madhya Pradesh, 100% for Maharashtra (19 responses) and 81% for
Rajasthan. Besides help through NREGS, possibly the government can think of
solutions such as drip irrigation for such regions to help them increase land
productivity.

54
Figure 70 Occupation (non-exclusive)

In all the states, labor, be it agricultural, migratory or general, is mentioned as the


main occupation by the respondents. As there is usually a dearth of employment in
the off-season in these areas, it is important for the NREGS to function properly and
provide an alternative, even if it is only 100 hours a year at present.

55
Figure 71 Type of house

There is very little presence of pukka or even semi-pukka housing among the
respondents surveyed. In Maharashtra, 79% of the respondents live in huts, the
highest for any state. Similarly, more than 95% of the housing in all the states is
either kachha or huts. This is a very high proportion and indicates a low standard of
living and limited economic means.

56
Figure 72 Asset ownership

As we can see in Figure 72, Gujarat (428 respondents) and Madhya Pradesh (180)
have similar levels of asset ownership. Rajasthan (150 respondents) probably has
the highest proportion of asset ownership in its respondents. By contrast,
Maharashtra (177 respondents) has very low levels of ownership. This is
corroborated by the low levels of land ownership and the high proportion of huts as
the type of housing. Hence, the areas of Maharashtra covered by this survey are
especially vulnerable, even though the other states are not very good performers
themselves in terms of the standard of living.

57
Figure 73 Employment status

Gujarat and Rajasthan have the highest proportion of unemployed people. Otherwise,
it is quite easy to tell that the respondents studied are mainly under-employed. There
is a lot of latent unemployment which an effective government scheme or policy can
tap. Hence, there is a huge scope for the NREGS in these circumstances.

58
Figure 74 Food Consumption

The graphs for average consumption of food-grains have similar look and feel
across the states except for Rajasthan. In the latter’s case, the amount of food-
grains consumed seems to be quite low as compared to the other states.
Interestingly, Maharashtra has done better in the consumption of food-grains than
in other measures of the standard of living and ownership.

59
Conclusion

The proportion of land owners is between two-thirds and four-fifths in Gujarat,


Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. In Maharashtra however, inlay 24% of the
respondents owned land. This is a worrying figure. Combined with the fact that
most of the land owned is non-irrigated, the resources available to the respondents
are few. This increases the dependence on NREGS. In asset ownership and housing
as well, Maharashtra is worse off than other states. Similarly, all states have a high
rate of underemployment, underlining the need for an NREGS.

Spotlight on Migration

We have concentrated on migration in this study as it is one of the crucial ways in


which NREGS influences the lives of the workers. It allows them freedom from
having to detach themselves from their social milieu and struggle in urban areas
that can barely cater to their needs. NREGS is not just about offering bare
sustenance, it is also about creating choice in the workers’ lives and it is this aspect
that this study tries to bring out.

60
Figure 75 Is NREGS effective in preventing migration?

As discussed above, one of the main roles of NREGS is its contribution in reducing
migration and the ensuing disruption of workers’ lives. In Maharashtra and Rajasthan
80% or more respondents believed that this role had been fulfilled. But in Gujarat
this figure was only 27% and the respondents feel there is some way to go for the
scheme to become effective.

61
Figure 76 Do women migrate for work?

When women with children migrate for work, the balance of the entire family gets
disturbed as their and the children’s access to health and education services is
disrupted. Hence, it is important to check this practice by providing higher
employment opportunities under the scheme.
In Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, we find that there is a high level of migration of
women and NREGS needs to reduce this.

62
Figure 77 Distance of workplace (outside NREGS)

Outside the NREGS, the distance of the workplace from their homes for the
respondents’ is the highest for Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. It is the least for
Gujarat where the level of development of cities such as Surat, Baroda, Ahmedabad
etc. makes it easier to find migratory employment closer to home.

63
Figure 78 Wages (outside NREGS)

The wages outside NREGS are the lowest in Maharashtra according to the
respondents, with 80% below Rs. 75. They are the highest in Rajasthan with more
than 71% above Rs. 75. In Madhya Pradesh this percentage is 64% and in Gujarat it
is 35%.

64
Figure 79 Days of work (outside NREGS)

The days of work outside NREGS for the respondents are less than four months (or
seasonal work) for 94% of the respondents in Madhya Pradesh. This lower but not
much different for Rajasthan (84%), Maharashtra (74%) and Gujarat (79%).

65
Figure 80 Do you get opportunity to work independently under NREGS?

In Gujarat and Rajasthan, the respondents felt that they had opportunity to work
independently under the scheme. This could be in the choice of work and the timing
etc. However, in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, there was barely any autonomy.

66
Figure 81 Has NREGS brought about changes in your household? (Y/N)

Figure 81 shows that there are a large number of respondents in Gujarat and
Rajasthan who felt that the scheme has had a positive effect on their lives. However,
unfortunately, the response of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra was not very
positive in this case.

67
Figure 82 Change in migration in families of respondents

The change in migration in the family of the respondents is there for us to see in the
case of all the states. The reduction has been the highest for Madhya Pradesh and
Maharashtra. It is the least in the case of Gujarat.

68
Figure 83 Fall in migration?

In Figure 83, we see that 99% of the respondents in Rajasthan felt that there had
been a fall in migration, whereas 88% in Gujarat felt so. However, this figure was
41% in Madhya Pradesh and only 3% for Maharashtra.

69
Figure 84 How has NREGS benefitted you?

Rajasthan and Gujarat have the greatest number of respondents describing the
manner in which NREGS has benefitted them, health, education and household goods
being the main ways. The number is the least for Maharashtra, and only slightly
better for Madhya Pradesh.

70
Figure 85 Do you prefer working under NREGS or migration?

When asked whether NREGS was preferable or migration, majority of the workers
stated a clear preference for staying in their villages and NREGS. There is a clear
mandate to expand the scope of the scheme and use it as a means of promoting the
well-being of local communities. The government should look to increasing the
number of work hours per family and also wage levels to ensure that workers have a
viable alternative to migration.

71
Conclusion

Except for Gujarat, the respondents in the other states believe that the NREGS has
reduced the migration from rural areas. This is important for many reasons. Two of
them are that the workers have to travel long distances in the absence of NREGS and
also women also have to migrate, especially in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Figure
81 shows that NREGS has reduced migration across the states. But respondents in
Gujarat and Maharashtra do not believe this to be the case. Most importantly, across
all the states, the respondents felt that NREGS is preferable to migration. Hence,
policymakers need to make sure that even if the scheme is not yet instrumental in
reducing migration, it becomes so in the future.

NREGS Implementation

NREGS has become the cornerstone of the government’s rural employment and
development policy. Hence, it is important that we discuss not just an aspect such
as migration, but also the impact the scheme has had on asset-building and wage
structure. It is also important to find out whether corruption is being tackled with
through monitoring, inspection, vigilance committees, opening of bank accounts etc.
We will look at these and other points for each of the states in this section.

72
Figure 86 Source of information about NREGS

The sarpanch has become the main source of preliminary information about the
NREGS in all the states. Friends and family are also important in all states except
Gujarat where NGOs play a bigger role. In Rajasthan, radio and television also play
an important role along with the government.

73
Figure 87 Jobcard provided

In Figure 87, we find that Rajasthan has a very high proportion of respondents with
no job-cards, more than half in fact. Maharashtra also has 23% of the respondents
without job-cards. This is an example of improper practice that needs to be
addressed.

74
Figure 88 Decision-maker regarding NREGS

The main decision-maker with regard to who works in the NREGS is the family elder
in Madhya Pradesh (99%), Gujarat (69%) and Maharashtra (58%). In Rajasthan,
family members (31%) and both the husband and wife (35%) also play an
important part. Hence, the decision-making process in Rajasthan is more inclusive
and fair.

75
Figure 89 Days of employment provided under NREGS

The days of employment are the highest for respondents in Rajasthan, with 75% of
them saying that they had between 90 and 100 days of employment. The
implementation of the scheme had been the best in Rajasthan in the previous survey
undertaken in 2006-07 as well. By contrast, 82% of the respondents had less than
30 days of work in Maharashtra, with 55% in Madhya Pradesh with a similar number.
Gujarat had higher employment provided than the previous two states under the
NREGS.

76
Figure 90 Criteria for being chosen to work under NREGS

Ideally, having a job-card should be the main criteria for workers to be chosen for
NREGS. This is mainly the case in Maharashtra (99%), Madhya Pradesh (99%) and
Gujarat (73%). However, in Rajasthan, men being preferred seems to be prevalent,
along with a greater incidence of workers being deemed eligible on age criteria. The
former practice goes against the principles of equal opportunity and should be
discouraged.

77
Figure 91 whether given opportunity to work under NREGS

Only 5% of the respondents in Maharashtra and 7% in Madhya Pradesh believe that


they have been denied an equal opportunity to work under the scheme. This is a very
high proportion and needs to be addressed by the authorities. However, in Gujarat
(95%) and Rajasthan (71%), existence of equal opportunity is believed to be the
case by the majority of the respondents.

78
Figure 92 Decision on providing work made by

The decision to start and provide work is made mainly by the gram sabha in Madhya
Pradesh (64%) and Gujarat (71%). It plays an important role in Maharashtra (42%)
and Rajasthan (38%) as well. However, the government also plays an important part
in Maharashtra (52%) and Rajasthan (51%), and to an extent in Madhya Pradesh
(25%) and Gujarat (15%). Also, the people themselves are part of the decision-
making process across the states and this is also a practice that needs to be
encouraged.

79
Figure 93 Facilities made available

Drinking water is present for more than half the respondents in all the states.
However, first aid is common only in Rajasthan and Gujarat. Similarly, a shed for
rest is provided for some of the respondents in the same states. Hence, we
conclude that there are insufficient facilities for workers in Madhya Pradesh and
Maharashtra, and those in Gujarat and Rajasthan need to be improved, particularly
provision of crèche for women with children.

80
Figure 94 Are facilities provided regular?

As seen in the previous figure, we find that Figure 94 also indicates that the states
of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra lag behind Gujarat and Rajasthan in provision
of facilities. In this case, the regularity of the facilities is questionable. If NREGS has
to become a success in these states, then provision of such basic facilities is a must.
Otherwise, we are paying lip service to the needs of our people.

81
Figure 95 Regular source of information about work under NREGS

There is a need to institutionalize the conveying of information to the eligible


population as well as the people already working under the NREGS. This is being
achieved to an extent as the panchayat has become the main source of regular
information for the scheme. In Maharashtra, word of mouth is still a significant
source (40%), which can be a problem if accurate information is to be provided.

82
Figure 96 Is board notifying about NREGS provided?

Gujarat and Rajasthan have been more efficient regarding provision of notice-board
carrying information of the scheme for the general public at each site. Maharashtra
(3%) and Madhya Pradesh (15%) are found woefully lacking on this count, which is
another parameter that shows how seriously the scheme is taken by the
administration.

83
Figure 97 Work in gang

The proportion of work that happens in a gang is the highest in Rajasthan (99%)
and Gujarat (94%). This practice is also prevalent in (56%) and Madhya Pradesh
(66%). While this practice is acceptable at times it can lead to the wage payment
also being made to gang leader, which can be a source of corruption and is not
permitted under NREGS.

84
Figure 98 Payment to individual or gang

In Gujarat (66%) and Madhya Pradesh (55%), the payment of wages is made to the gang
for majority of the respondents. In Maharashtra, as well, 40% of the wage payments are
made to the gang. This practice is not improper and not allowed under NREGS and must be
stopped as it encourages nepotism, inequality and corruption.

85
Figure 99 Are physically challenged provided work?

The opportunity for physically challenged people to work is barely provided in


Maharashtra (1%) and Madhya Pradesh (1%). This should be changed and they
should be provided equal opportunity. Similarly, Rajasthan also needs to improve
its performance as only 48% of the respondents said that there was equal
opportunity to work for physically challenged people. Only Gujarat was somewhat
satisfactory in this regard.

86
Figure 100 Have you applied for unemployment allowance if NREGS work not
provided?

In Gujarat, 94% of the respondents had applied for the unemployment allowance
when they were not provided work on request. While this could be due to a lack of
employment being provided, it also shows that there is greater awareness of their
rights among the workers in Gujarat. We can conclude this as the scheme has not
been very well implemented in other states as well, yet no one makes use of the
right to claim unemployment allowance from the government.

87
Figure 101 Has vigilance committee been appointed in your village?

A vigilance committee ensures public accountability of the actions of civil servants


and public office holders. It is important that it is formed to reduce any possible
incidences of inefficiency or corruption. However, except for Rajasthan, all the other
states have been really slow in implementing this provision of NREGS. If the
scheme has to be successful then aspects such as this cannot be ignored.

88
Figure 102 Is the work monitored?

Gujarat has the highest proportion of respondents who believe that their work is
monitored. Madhya Pradesh has one third of its respondents saying that their work
is not monitored and this is undesirable.

89
Figure 103 How often is the work monitored?

While Madhya Pradesh had one-third of its respondents saying their work is not
monitored, it had the highest proportion of respondents whose work was monitored
with a frequency of two visits per week. On the other hand, in Maharashtra (56%)
and Rajasthan (69%), majority of the respondents did not have their work
monitored more than once a week.

90
Figure 104 Time taken for payment

A very crucial parameter to test the effectiveness of the scheme is time taken for
payment. It is impossible to help the workers attain a minimum acceptable
standard of living if they do not even get paid on time. Unfortunately, in
Maharashtra (73%), Rajasthan (59%) and Madhya Pradesh (72%), it takes an
average of more than four weeks for majority of the respondents to get paid. In
Gujarat as well this figure is 39%. Hence, the states fare badly on this count and
their payment mechanisms need to improve.

91
Figure 105 Is there variation in wage due to NREGS?

One of the secondary purposes of the NREGS was to create a higher minimum wage
level in the local labor markets for the workers, especially in the off-season. In
Rajasthan and Gujarat, the respondents seem to think this has been the case.
However, respondents in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh felt that NREGS had not
led to any changes in the local wage rates.

92
Figure 106 Change in wages after NREGS

Figure 106 shows the change in the wage rate after the introduction of the NREGS.
As can be seen, there has been an improvement of around 50% in the wage rate
for Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Rajasthan has seen the highest rate
of change and wages post-NREGA have gone up by almost 90% there. If these
figures are representative, then policy-makers can take heart from the benefit
generated for the workforce from this scheme.

93
Figure 107 Basis of payment

Work done should be the ideal basis of payment of wages and we find that this is
indeed the case with Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. In Rajasthan,
work and time are both used as a basis of payment.

94
Figure 108 Are wages satisfactory?

In all the states, the majority of the respondents were unhappy with the wages
given to them under the scheme. However, in Gujarat some (31%) did show
satisfaction with the wage rates.

95
Figure 109 Have assets been built in your village under NREGS?

Maharashtra has very few respondents who thought they had assets built in their
village under NREGS. Madhya Pradesh also had only one positive response, which
indicates that there has been little relevant work done for the villagers (else they
would have mentioned it here). However, in Gujarat and Rajasthan, there have been
a sufficient number of respondents who believe that asset-building under the scheme
has happened in their villages.

96
Figure 110 Assets built in village under NREGS

This question was answered satisfactorily only in Gujarat and Rajasthan, indicating
the relative success of the asset building process in these states. The main assets
that have been built are roads, check-dams, ponds and bridges.

97
Figure 111 Are assets useful?

In Rajasthan (86%) and Gujarat (72%), the assets built are deemed to have been
useful. Unfortunately, this has not been the case with Maharashtra and Madhya
Pradesh. This is in line with the findings of the previous two figures which stated that
very few assets had been built in the villages of the respondents.

98
Figure 112 Assets useful for women?

Again, in Gujarat (69%) and Rajasthan (89%), the respondents believed that the
assets built were useful for the women in these areas. Factors such as distance from
village and convenience of use might be the parameters in this case. Maharashtra
and Madhya Pradesh seemed to lag in this measure of usefulness of assets as well.

99
Figure 113 Measurement of work done by

The measurement of work is a critical aspect of the whole scheme and needs to be done
properly to ensure fair distribution of income among the workers. In Gujarat and Madhya
Pradesh, the work supervisor was the main person doing the measurements along with the
engineer. In Rajasthan, the SO and the ASO were mainly responsible for the measurements.
In Maharashtra, the forest officer and the agriculture department head were also
responsible for the measurements.

100
Figure 114 Frequency of inspection

The frequency of inspection is important to assess as helps us understand the


implementation of the scheme better. In Rajasthan, the inspection was daily for 87%
of the respondents. In Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, the inspections were at least
weekly, if not bi-weekly. However, in Maharashtra, they were fortnightly in as many
as 31% of the cases.

101
Figure 115 Is there any corruption present?

Gujarat had the highest proportion of respondents saying that they had come across
incidents of corruption (27%), followed by Maharashtra (21%) and Rajasthan (21%).

102
Figure 116 Nature of corrupt practices

The widest range of corrupt practices has been disclosed by the respondent sin
Gujarat. These include payment not per rules, muster roll being filled incorrectly,
wrong measurement, job-card not being provided and kept with the panchayat,
irregular or no payment etc. Respondents in other states mentioned types of corrupt
practices as well, albeit to a lesser degree.

103
Figure 117 Has a bank account been opened for you under NREGS?

To reduce corruption, it has been made mandatory to have a bank account opened
for the job-card holders under NREGS. But Madhya Pradesh (17%) and especially
Maharashtra (only 2%) are really lacking on this count and need to pull up their
socks. Rajasthan has a good proportion (91%) of the respondent with accounts under
the scheme.

104
Figure 118 Is social audit conducted under NREGS?

A social audit is a necessary requirement for the effectiveness of the implementation


to be measured on a regular basis. However, as a practice it has barely taken root in
all the states (Gujarat leads with 22%) and needs to be remedied urgently.

105
Figure 119 Proportion of NREGS workers

The proportion of female workers is around 40% for Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and
Maharashtra. In Rajasthan, however, respondents believed that more than half the
workers are women. This contradicts an earlier finding which said that choice of
workers is done on the basis of sex, but if true, is creditable and should be
encouraged in other states as well. After all, NREGS is not only a tool to increase
economic equality but also social equality.

106
Figure 120 Time taken for payment of women’s wages

Following the argument from the previous figure, we find that in Maharashtra and
Rajasthan, the majority of the wages of women are paid in a period of 4 weeks or
above. This is undesirable. The incidence is lower in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat,
but even there we have plenty of room for improvement.

107
Figure 121 What do you do in off-season?

Labor is the main occupation of the respondents in the off-season. In Rajasthan


however, 20% of the respondents were unemployed, which is a high proportion.

108
Conclusion

Provision of job-cards remains an issue that needs to be addressed, even in a state


such as Rajasthan where NREGS has been relatively successful. The role of the gram
sabha in providing work has become important as the scheme becomes older. The
provision of facilities is still lacking, especially in Maharashtra and Gujarat. Aspects
such as monitoring, inspection, vigilance committees and social audit need to be
regularized. The payment of wages is still a very slow process and quite often there
are instances of wages not being paid at all. Nevertheless, wages have gone up in
local labor markets as a result of NREGS. As in some other cases, asset building has
not been up to the mark in Maharashtra and the state administration really needs to
look into the manner in which the scheme is being run and perceived in the state.

The measurement of work is at present undertaken by a number of officials and there


needs to be some streamlining and clarity in this system. Also, corruption is present
in the various states, the highest proportion of respondents citing corruption being in
Gujarat.

Finally, an important role of the scheme is to encourage the participation of the


women in the workforce. It has to be instrumental in reducing their migration. It also
has to help them in simple things such as get their wages on time, which is not the
case. Furthermore, the assets produced have to be such that women can also use
them conveniently.

109
Field-workers’ observations

Gujarat
• Payment useful
• Wages helped with education
• Difficult to find regular work
• Would be useful to get local work
• Bank account helps in getting wages
• Scheme beneficial for irrigation
• Drinking water facility available
• Wages are Rs. 50 daily (low level)
• Job-card is with sarpanch
• Payment is lump sum
• Migration has reduced
• Payment is not according to work done, but per diem
• 100 days work completed but job-card does not reflect same
• Need to open bank account
• Got job-card but work not given. Had to apply for getting work.
• Applied for getting work, but no response yet.
• Irregular payment, work hours inflexible and low wages
• No first aid
• Irregular wage payment by post-office
• As the family is large, 100 days work insufficient to prevent migration. Need
at least 200 days work
• Need to migrate as NREGS work irregular. Insufficient for large family.
• Job-card in Panchayat
• Need work for at least two people in family
• Insufficient information about NREGS available
• Contractor being used
• No work done since 2007

110
Madhya Pradesh
• Payment not as per rules
• Only 6 days’ work given
• Drinking water facility not available
• Made an application requesting work, but no response
• There has been no change due to NREGS
• Got work but not received any payment
• Payment insufficient (Rs. 65 per day)
• Need to migrate as no work under NREGS
• Irregular payment
• Work done not entered in job-card
• Sarpanch & mantri committed graft
• Wages insufficient, need to migrate
• No information about work under NREGS
• Corruption exists
• Pay commission of Rs. 5 on wages of Rs. 70
• Difficult to open bank account
• Would be better if got work in vicinity

Maharashtra
• No awareness of NREGA
• No work under NREGS
• People do not understand how to apply for work under NREGS
• Only 5-10 days work available
• People do not get good work
• No job-cards made available
• Job-card not filled properly with details of work done
• No photo in job-card
• No work done since 2007
• No payment done
• Payment delayed by as much as 3 months

111
• People in urgent need of work
• Difficult to obtain information regarding NREGS
• Need to migrate to find work as NREGS does not provide same
• Regular work under NREGS would help education, economic situation
• Wages very low (around Rs. 30 per day)
• Attitude of officer not helpful
• Need first-aid facilities
• Unsatisfactory work

Rajasthan
• Improper measurement
• No drinking water facility
• Difficult to fill NREGS form
• Reduced migration
• 100 days’ work insufficient
• Don’t know if correct amount of wages are in the bank account
• Work not interesting for people

112
Conclusion

NREGS has been instrumental in creating employment in rural areas in the


off-season. In places it has been able to provide sufficient sustenance to
families to stem the flow of migration. We have seen that migration has
reduced by more than half since the scheme was introduced. This has
allowed families better access to educational and medical facilities in their
existing domiciles. Besides migration, we have studied the overall
implementation of the scheme. Most of the NREGS workers surveyed had
little or no land. Many of the ones that do have land did not have access to
irrigation and hence the productivity of the land is low. In such circumstances,
the importance of migratory labor or an alternative such as NREGS goes up.
Also, most of the respondents were semi-employed through out the year,
which meant that there is scope for NREGS to provide employment and
encourage asset-creation.

An important part of the scheme is how the work is provided and who makes
decision within the family regarding the NREGS. It was found that the main
source of information about the NREGS is the sarpanch and also employment
under the scheme is provided mainly by the gram sabha. The latter was one
of the aims of the scheme as it is a sign of devolution of power to local
government. However, it is important to note that almost 50% of the
respondents had received less than 50 days employment in the past year.
Also, the provision of the basic amenities such as drinking water and first-aid
is still uncommon.

The payment of wages has many issues. Wages are not regularly paid and
sometimes not paid at all. They are not paid according to the work done in
many places and also the hours worked are not kept account of properly.
Also, while the scheme makes it mandatory to make the wage payment
directly to the individual, it has been found that payment to the gang-leader
is still prevalent.

113
Work monitoring and inspection is still not as frequent as would be desirable.
Furthermore, vigilance committees and social audit have not become
common practices and it will take some time before they can be
institutionalized.

An important aspect is the effect of NREGS on the labor market. It has


buoyed up the off-season wages and has been instrumental in allowing the
rural workforce to obtain means for basic sustenance in their local areas
without having to migrate. Since it has been only around two to three years
since NREGS began in most areas, we expect that the labor market will
evolve to benefit the local workforce further.

In majority of the cases, we found that the wage payment took more than 4
weeks. In some cases, wages were not paid at all. The very purpose of such
a large scheme is defeated if there is no payment to the poor and the needy.
The administration really needs to pull up its socks in this matter. It is hoped
that opening of bank accounts might change this occurrence, but just
opening accounts is not necessarily the solution as it brings its own problems
in terms of difficulty in operation of account and not being able to confirm
whether the correct amounts are being credited to the accounts. People have
taken loans thinking that will repay when they get NREGS wages and have to
pay heavy interest when the wages do not get paid for a long time. Delay in
payment should be compensated under Payment of Wages Act-1936.

The assets built under NREGS have to be targeted to better serve the needs
of the local population. There needs to be a blueprint that clearly outlines the
necessary infrastructure for each district, taluka and village, and the scheme
should be used as a tool to create this infrastructure. Also, there has to be
room for the scheme to encourage more skilled professionals to put their
time to better use than merely menial labor. Only then would we ensure that
the effort is rewarding as opposed to being mechanical.

114
Looking at the state-wise comparison, we found that land ownership was the
least in tribal areas of Maharashtra. Hence, there is a great need for a
scheme such as NREGS to provide employment in the off-season there as
there are few other options to migration. Also, in all the states, the land
owned by the respondents was mainly non-irrigated, which reduces the
productivity of the land and increases the family’s dependence on labor. The
kind of housing available at present is either kaccha dwellings or huts in all
the states, but is mostly huts in Maharashtra. This underlines the difficult
economic status of the respondents in the state. In asset ownership as well,
Maharashtra scores the worst with Gujarat having the highest. We found that
there was a great deal of underemployment, not to mention unemployment
present. This highlights the need for a scheme such as NREGS that helps the
people create valuable assets that enhance the productivity in agriculture
and otherwise in their villages.

When it comes to migration, in Maharashtra and Rajasthan, respondents


were positive about the effects of NREGS in reducing migration. As the wages
outside NREGS are the lowest in Maharashtra, this phenomenon can be easily
understood. In terms of number of people who have migrated before and
after NREGS, we found that there has been a drastic fall in the number of
migrants. This bodes well for the future of the scheme and our policy-makers
should be proud of their good work in this regard. However, when asked if
NREGS had brought changes to their households in terms of education,
clothing etc. we found that respondents in Gujarat and Rajasthan were
positive but Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh were not so forthcoming. The
former have been the states that have done relatively well when it comes to
NREGS implementation and this is showing in this response.
There are still problems with job-cards, as they are not being issued properly.
This aspect has remained even though the scheme has been in place for
some time and needs to be dealt with properly. Also, we found that except in
Rajasthan, the decision of who works in NREGS is rather centralized within

115
families and the all the adults are not consulted. In terms of the days of
employment provided, Rajasthan is clearly the most successful followed by
Gujarat (mainly due to civil society pressure in Gujarat). Unfortunately,
Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh are unable to make optimal use of the
scheme.

Very few facilities such as first aid or a shed for rest are made available,
especially in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. The facilities that are
provided are not regular either. Hence, if the scheme is taken seriously by
the administration it needs to work to provide these amenities.

Working in gangs is still quite common in the states other than Rajasthan,
and unfortunately this practice extends to payment in gangs as well. This
can lead to graft and favoritism within groups and is not allowed under
NREGS rules. Monitoring and inspection of work still is not very common and
vigilance committees and social audit processes have not taken root yet. Also
Payment under the SOR and the measurement taken for work is very
problematic. Villages cannot understand the mathematic calculations used for
payment and this is often taken advantage of. This is a major cause of low
wages under NREGS.

On the positive side, there has been a rise in wages across all states. This
increase is the highest in Rajasthan. However, majority of the respondents
still do not find the wages satisfactory. Similarly, assets have been built for
majority of respondents in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. But
respondents in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra do not find the assets
useful. In Rajasthan and Gujarat, the assets were found to be useful by the
villagers. This underlines the fact that NREGS has been more successful in
these two states as compared to the former. The assets were found to be
more useful for women again in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Similarly, bank
accounts were opened for the highest percentage of respondents in
Rajasthan, followed by Gujarat.

116
Corruption is still a worrying prospect and has been found to be present
across all states. While the most instances of corruption in fieldworkers’
observations were found to be in Madhya Pradesh, the highest percentage of
respondents in Gujarat that reported corruption in the scheme was in Gujarat.

As the reader would have ascertained, there has been some good work done
under NREGS. However, there is a long way to go before the scheme can
reach acceptable levels of effectiveness. There is no turning back in terms of
whether or not NREGS should exist. It is firmly here to stay and will help
serve a very important purpose of providing a lifeline to poor and
underemployed rural people. But the administration needs to show more
seriousness and professionalism in its attitude towards the scheme.

117
Recommendations

 Create 5 year and 10 year plans for all the villages in consultation with the
Gram Sabha. These would help create and prioritize the list of assets that are
required in the village and allow for greater accountability in terms of
ensuring deadlines are met.
 The range of work that is offered needs to be reviewed. Workers have stated
that they do not find the work interesting. It has been stated before that
NREGS can be a means of encouraging skilled work as well, not just menial
labor. We could use it to revive fast-disappearing skill-sets in rural areas.
 Central government should reconsider the provision for providing only 100
days’ employment as it is insufficient to prevent migration in large rural
families.
 Bank accounts need to be opened and some training needs to be imparted to
villagers to be able to understand how to use them effectively.
 Measurement has to be monitored regularly and payment should be made as
per the measurement of the work done.
 A basic level of wages should be ensured, there is too much variance.
 In many villages work has not even started or has stopped since 2007. This
should be looked into. For many people, NREGS exists only on paper.

Basic facilities such as drinking water and first-aid have not been provided in
most places. Crèches also need to be provided when a sufficient number of
women workers are present.
 Corruption and graft has become more common than at the time of the
previous survey in 2006-07. More attention needs to be given to ensure that
such practices are weeded out.
 It has been three years since the scheme started in the most of these
districts but there are still major issues with job-card distribution. In many
places they have not been made properly. In some other, the sarpanch or
panchayat has not distributed them. In other places they are not filled
properly with details of the work done.

118
 Payment is highly irregular in many places. It needs to be improved.
 Muster rolls have to be filled properly and monitored regularly.
 Assets constructed should be convenient to use for the local people and
should not be too far from the settlements.
 The recommendations of the CAG to the government of India should be
studied and implemented without delay.
 Need to give job-cards to the families who have not received job cards till
now. Full details should be filled in the job cards and the job cards should be
kept with the workers.
 Village level plan should be developed by Gram Sabha and Work under
NREGA should be selected by villagers and Gram Sabhas.
 Payment of Wages should be made compulsory every weekend. Delay in
Payment should be punished under Payment of Wages Act, 1936.
 Worker should be paid Minimum wage Rs. 100/day and Minimum wage
should be linked with market prices and inflation and be revised every year.
 Wages should be paid according to Minimum Wages and the S.O.R should be
revised every year.
 A board should be display indicating details of work, total workers, type of
work and details of wages at the working site.
 Those who want to work under NREGA should get work there should not be
discrimination between skilled and un-skilled workers.
 Working tools should be given to the workers at worksite.
 Need to appoint separate executors who can devote full time for
implementation of NREG in Gujarat.
 Strictly mention the details of wages, quantity of work, measurement and
rates of wages in the job-cards of the worker.
 Set up separate grievance redressal mechanism to resolve complaints under
NREGA.
 Provide employment of 200 days instead of 100 days under this scheme to
the families.
 Machinery is banned under the Act and government should ensure this is the
case for the works under NREGA.

119
Appendix 1- NREG Workers’ Union,
Gujarat
NREGA Workers Union, Gujarat is registered trade union. This is a first Trade union
of NREGA workers in entire country. NREGA Workers Union ensures the proper
implementation of the NREGA. It is started to deal with the widespread complaints
regarding inefficient implementation of the NREG scheme by the Gujarat
government with consensus of the 5000 National Rural Employment Grantee
workers on 17th June 2007 at Godhara Taluka of Panchmahal District of Gujarat. It
seeks and secures the entitlements to the 100 days employment guarantee for the
rural people and facilitates its effective implementation and monitoring. It trains
community to demand for work. It ensures the enforcement of the minimum wage,
worksite facilities, etc. In case of violation, it files a complaint and fights for the
rights of the NREGA workers. Apart from this union facilitates the community to
prepare village development plans under NREGA. At the end of the December 2008,
12064 job-card holders were members of the Union.

The president of the National Rural Employment Grantee workers Union is Ms.
Vimalaben Kharadi and the General Secretary of the union is Ms Paulomee Mistry.
The union has an eleven member state executive committee. At district level, a 21
members working committee consisting of job-card holders and at Taluka level, a
21 member working committee, both actively work in four districts of Gujarat viz.,
Sabarkantha, Dahod, Panchmahal and Vadodara.

NREGA Workers Union-Gujarat has organized many programs like village-level


meetings, cycle yatra, public convention with an objective that community in the
villages makes maximum use of NREGS and people get their rights according to
provisions of the Act. The Union has frequently made representations to Sarpanch,
Talati, Program Officer and Assistant District Program Coordinator for resolving the
worker’s problems. In last two years we have provided 35892 job-cards to the
workers and due to Union’s strong persuasion NREGS work was started in many
villages and several workers got work under NREGA.

120
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